Florida seeks to prevent wrong-way auto crashes

Florida officials are looking for ways to prevent wrong-way car crashes, which occur with alarming frequency in the state.

In April, a study published by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) found that 75 people were killed in 280 wrong-way crashes between 2009 and 2013 on Florida highways. Miami-Dade County accounted for 60 of those crashes, or 21 percent of the total, and 10 of those were fatal. On December 30, a 23-year-old woman entered the northbound express lanes of I-95 in the Miami area going the wrong way. She crashed head-on into a Hyundai carrying four people, killing them and herself. In 2015, an apparent upsurge in wrong-way accidents occurred in the Tampa Bay area, with several major accidents occurring in quick succession.

Wrong-way car accidents are a focus for traffic safety officials because they are likely to be deadly and they are obviously preventable. Officials say that impaired driving is a factor in 45 percent of wrong-way collisions, which is 16 times greater than the rate of impaired driving involvement for crashes overall. Seventy-one percent of wrong-way accidents occur in dark conditions, with many occurring in the early morning hours.

FDOT is conducting pilot programs in 15 locations to test the effectiveness of wrong-way detection technology and “Wrong Way” signs illuminated by LED lights. Captain Faye Davis of Miami Fire Rescue has advocated spike strips on entrance ramps that would prevent drivers from entering highways going the wrong way.